For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s Health Issues page.

Recent studies show poor sleeping habits cause both brain damage and brain shrinkage, and may even accelerate onset of Alzheimer’s disease.1

Previous research published in the journal
Science2 revealed that your brain removes toxic waste
during sleep through what has been dubbed “the glymphatic system.”3, 4, 5

This system becomes active during sleep, thereby allowing your brain to clear out toxins and harmful proteins.

Sleep is also necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain.6, 7, 8 Without sufficient sleep, your neurons will actually begin to deteriorate-and catching up on sleep during weekends will
not prevent this damage.

Lack of sleep has also been linked to obesity in both animals and humans, as well as hormone alterations in animals. In short, sleeping soundly appears to be key for aging well, and maintaining healthy brain function into old age.

Poor Sleep Can Lead to Brain Shrinkage

According to recent research published in the journal
Neurology,9, 10, 11 lack of sleep may affect the size of your brain. A total of 147 adult volunteers underwent MRI scans to assess the link between sleep and brain volume.

As it turns out, sleep problems like insomnia can have a distinct impact on your brain over time, causing it to shrink-and shrink more rapidly, compared to those who sleep well. This effect was particularly significant in those over 60. According to the authors:

“Poor sleep quality was associated with reduced volume within the right superior frontal cortex in cross-sectional analyses, and an increased rate of atrophy within widespread frontal, temporal, and parietal regions in longitudinal analyses.

Results were largely driven by correlations within adults over the age of 60, and could not be explained by variation in physical activity, BMI, or blood pressure.”